Viacom launches MTV Arabia

>DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – MTV is hoping hip-hop and reality television tailored and sanitized for a more conservative Middle East will draw young Arabs away from dozens of locally produced music video channels that already dominate the market.

MTV Arabia, which launched over the weekend, will feature 60 percent international music and 40 percent Arabic music, along with local adaptations of the channel’s popular non-music shows.

But MTV, which is known for airing provocative videos featuring scantily clad women, says the Arab version of the pop-culture channel will show less bare skin and profanity.

“When we come to people’s homes, we want to earn their respect,” said Abdullatif al-Sayegh, chief executive of Arab Media Group, which along with Viacom Inc.’s MTV Networks International owns MTV Arabia. He explained that there will be “culturally sensitive editors going through content of the programming.”

The station launched at midnight Saturday, airing a pre-taped show featuring Grammy award-winning rapper and actor Ludacris, Senegalese-born soul superstar Akon, Lebanese rapper Karl Wolf and the Emirates underground hip-hop band Desert Heat.